• Karel L.

Goals galore at the Etihad on Boxing Day

Manchester City defeated Leicester in an exciting and entertaining match full of goals. At times it seemed that the visiting team could come back, fortunately, the final score ended in a 6-3 in favor of the Citizens.

The analysis

One of the most important points for the team for months now has been that their style of play is based on 3 key players at the back, Laporte, Dias, and Rodri (who despite not being a defender is the one who is most responsible for recovering balls), so since the rumors that the latter could be out due to COVID-19 started the concern increased.

That said, it is also well known that we have a lot of options, proof of that is that our lineup was extremely competitive with Fernandino helping the recovery, Gundogan, and De Bruyne further forward, and with an attack full of quality.

Initially, my idea was that during the game all the players upfront would rotate, as that is what the team has been doing during the last few games, but that was not the case. Bernardo played as a false 9 for most of the game and the wingers (Mahrez and Sterling) never showed any intention of changing positions.

It is also worth mentioning the appearance of some elements on the bench like Kayky or Mbete, young players that although they did not have minutes, it is always good to see in the first team.

Leicester played an attacking game, their midfield with Dewsbury-Hall and Tielemans is one of the most efficient in the league, which added to the speed of their attackers like Maddison or Iheanacho can put you in trouble. Vardy watched the whole game from the bench.

Now, going into the analysis of the match I have to say that something that continues to fascinate me to this day despite seeing him every day is the mobility that Bernardo has and his ability to attract the attention of the opposition, in fact, in the goal, he is in charge of distracting the defenders, which gives Kevin all the time in the world to turn, settle, shoot and score.

Another important issue throughout the first half was the constant partnership between Laporte and Sterling, with the Spaniard defender constantly finding the Englishman alone thanks to his long, seemingly remote-controlled passes.

Now, I mentioned a moment ago how fundamental Silva was to Kevin's goal, but I would like to expand on that a bit more. Normally (at least from my point of view), when both play together in the midfield they tend to get in each other's way, almost as if the great talent they both have collided and didn't let them play well.

Today, during the whole game and thanks to Bernardo playing as a false 9, that never happened. Each one had his own space to play, to think, to pass, etc. In fact, that good relationship that was built was what led us to the corner kick where the second goal came.

And speaking of that goal, there is something I want to emphasize and that is how well the team is starting to work on those kinds of plays.

Now, although I usually highlight the actions of the players in the specific section dedicated to the men of the match, this time I want to emphasize as much as possible the actions of Raheem because during the first half he never stopped moving and looking for the ball, he drove the defenders completely crazy and also won all the duels in speed, which gave us a lot of advantage and got us one of the penalties.

For the second half City's approach changed, which I found extremely interesting, as it was what I think made us vulnerable to counterattacks. The defense consisted of only 2 players, Ruben and Laporte, as Zinchenko and Cancelo had moved to play more in midfield, accompanying Fernandinho to have a quick recovery.

Finally, and as you know, something that I think is always necessary is to highlight the negative, so it is essential to talk about the overconfidence of the team when the goal advantage is large. In fact, the team looks much more solid and with ideas winning by 1 or 2 than having an advantage of 4 or 5 goals, something that was seen during the final minutes.

In addition to this, it also seems to me that Guardiola takes too long to make substitutions, something for which he has already been criticized a lot.

Key moments

This match was marked by 3 key moments that determined the course of the game.

- 4’ De Bruyne's goal: I have always highlighted the importance of winning early against highly defensive teams, but I also think it is essential against teams that can make the game difficult for us, such as Leicester.

- 68’ Laporte's goal: At this point the team was in a difficult moment, as Leicester had just scored 3 goals and had come dangerously close on the scoreboard, so increasing the lead again was crucial.

- 70' Ederson's save: Another match where the Brazilian's save deserves to be highlighted, as City had just scored, so his save (where he risked his body) prevented the visitors from reducing the lead once again.

Players of the Match

Someone who is impossible not to highlight thanks to his good performance is Cancelo. The surprising thing about the Portuguese is his ability to understand the spaces, to position himself where his teammates have left a gap, and to help both in attack and defense, which certainly gives us a lot of security.

Another player to give great credit to is Kevin de Bruyne, who has not had an easy season at all but today we can finally say that he is back, which is good news. The Belgian was in charge of scoring, distributing, and organizing the tempo of the match.

Finally, there is the one who was officially named player of the match, Raheem Sterling. The Englishman has now scored in 4 consecutive Premier League games, and today he was a spectacle both in attack and defense.

Post-match reactions

· Raheem acknowledged Leicester's hard work despite defeat "Leicester have some really good players. They didn't get disheartened and kept going. Credit to them." [via @ManCity]

· In addition, our coach also talked about the tremendous match. “A roller coaster. It was a typical Boxing Day game, lots of goals. It was entertaining for everyone. Another victory, so important to continue our run. Now we rest for three days and go to the next game.” [via @ManCity]

· Finally, he highlighted the team's mentality even in difficult moments. “At 4-2 the mindset of the players change, and at 4-3 we are closer to losing and we have doubts. But we were patient, we had chances and won the game.”

[via @ManCity]

Who's next?

Manchester City's next game is on Wednesday against Brentford.